Charles Kemuel Eleuterius, Ph. D.

By Mary Earle Eleuterius & Harold Graham

Charles Kemuel Eleuterius, Ph. DHe was a man born into a family of custom ship builders and filled with a passion for the oceans and all their habits, but he was also a man who grew to love the red clay hills of Beat 2, Newton County, Mississippi, and the wife whose ancestral roots were vested there.

Charles was born and raised on the water in Biloxi, Mississippi. He spent many hours in and around the waters to the Gulf Coast, first as a boy, fishing, crabbing, oystering and learning to build boats from his father. He then worked as a scientist on these waters, studying the circulation, tides, and salinity.

Charles Kemuel Eleuterius was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, on November 28, 1940 and graduated from Biloxi High School in 1959. After completing his B. S. Degree in Mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi, Charles joined the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) staff in 1965. He served GCRL as a computer programmer, systems analyst, and data processing manager for the next four years, continuing to work at the same time on his advanced training. In 1969, he was awarded a masters degree from USM in Statistics and Secondary Education. He then enrolled in Texas A & M University where he earned a doctorate in Physical Oceanography. He earned a second doctorate from USM in 1987 in Educational Leadership and Research.

Charles Kemuel Eleuterius, Ph. D. (1940-2003)

In 1971, Dr. Eleuterius was appointed to head the physical oceanography section of GCRL. In the years that followed, his role with GCRL and USM was greatly expanded. He not only came to be recognized as the leading authority on Gulf Coast oceanography and authored a number of scientific studies and publications in that field, but he also was a teacher and mentor to many other aspiring scientists and researchers.

In addition to his research capacity with GCRL, he was also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Marine Science at Stennis Space Center, Diamondhead, Mississippi, and the Department of Physics at their Hattiesburg campus. He taught undergraduate and graduate computer science, statistics, and oceanography courses for USM and directed the research activities of several graduate students. In 1992 he was named academic coordinator of GCRL while continuing his research on the hydrodynamics of Mississippis estuaries and contiguous continental shelf waters.

Dr. Eleuterius was a pioneer in applying physical oceanography to understanding the biological processes of the northern Gulf of Mexico. His accomplishments included the establishment of the first computer center at the GCRL facility and the publication of the tide and lunar tables that continue to this day and which are the daily reading matter for fisherman throughout the coastal region.

Dr. Eleuterius was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, Sigma Xi Research Honor Society, Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honor Society, Mississippi Academy of Sciences, and the American Society of Limnologists and Oceanographers. He was also a member of Newton County Foresty Association and Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Charles first came to Newton County over forty years ago when he was engaged to Mary Earle Beemon, daughter of Newton County natives, Earl George Beemon and Saide B. Harris Beemon. He visited with the brothers and sisters of Earl Beemon and came to know and love them. At the time, most of Earls ten brothers and sisters were still living and active in the Little Rock community. With his marriage to Mary Earle he became related by marriage to many of the families of Newton County, these also including the Brand, Clearman, Huey, Strange, Rainer, Mapp, and Duett families. He especially enjoyed visiting with Earl Beenmon’s brother Thad, and learning to know more about his mules, Ada and Ida.

Charles always wanted to know more about the early history of Newton County. He, along with Mary Earle and cousin Alan Mapp searched for one of Shermans wagon carrels based on descriptions from historical sources. He always asked questions about early settlers, and, with Mary Earle and Gayle Duett, explored the Brand and Johnson Family cemeteries. He was interested in early gristmills and listened to his father-in-law talk about going to Moore’s Mill to grind corn into meal. He purchased a number of Choctaw Indians baskets and other artifacts from this area and developed an interest in early farming equipment.

The old Beemon-Brand place near Little Rock provided a natural laboratory for Charles and his family. There they spent many occasions hiking through the farmlands and woods. Charles was not a hunter or fisherman, but as a scientist he loved the land for what it was. He was interested in the hills, rock formations, plant life, and animals that lived on the land. He was an amateur bird watcher and with Mary Earle catalogued many of the species that they observed.

A few months before his death, Dr. Eleuterius was diagnosed with terminal cancer. There were good days and bad that followed, but we remember a special day in May 2003 when Charles was able to join the Society for an outing at Nance Hill in southwestern Newton County. For Charles, it was a temporary reprieve from his pain as he marveled at the unusual ecology found at this location. Ever the curious scientist, he eagerly moved around the hillside at Nance Hill to admire and identify every unusual type of plant life.

Dr Eleuterius died at his home in Ocean Springs on Thursday, September 18, 2003. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lionel Adam Eleuterius and Martha Elizabeth Tiblier Eleuterius. He was survived by his wife, Mary Earle (Beemon) Eleuterius, one daughter, Mary Beth Hickman and her husband Toddrick Bryan Hickman, by one granddaughter, Sadie Frances Hickman, by two brothers, Lionel Numi Eleuterius and Wayne Atlas Eleuterius, by two sisters, Janis Faye Ingalls and Ann Moran, and by one aunt, Olivia Holley.

Funeral services were conducted at the Ocean Springs Chapel, Bradford-OKeefe, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, at 9:00 a. m, September 22, 2003. Burial was in Hopewell Cemetery, Newton County, Mississippi, at 2:30 p. m. on that same day. It was by his own choice that he was buried in the red clay hills that he had grown to love. To paraphrase an old spiritual,

Home at Last
Home at Last

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